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From the Trenches

Jams, Bowl Cuts and Typos – Why Having a QA Process is Critical

Will Davis | May 12, 2011

Mistakes are a part of life – we all make them.  Personally, I’ve made my share.  I once had a bowl haircut, thought that Jams were the coolest shorts ever and just yesterday tweeted a typo.   When it comes to content creation, while it’s impossible to always be absolutely perfect, it’s critical to put your best foot forward by having a quality assurance (QA) process for your content.

Nothing is more frustrating than seeing an article or a design comp littered with typos and misspellings (hint: F7 and Shift-F7 are the shortcuts to spell check in the vast majority of applications).

Mike touched on this in his recent post 5 Ways to Get Your Non-Marketing Employees to Create Content:

4. Provide everyone with an editor.

Especially when it comes to writing, and writing in the public domain, the fear of failure is very, very strong. While most people think they can write a little, very few think they can write polished material that anyone outside of their immediate family will care about.

Give them an editor, and let them know that this editor will not let them fail. That’s what editors are for, after all. They serve as the first line of defense against a poorly-conceived initial idea, and the last line of defense against a poorly-written idea.

Consider Groupon, one of the hottest companies out there right now.  Regardless of what you think of their service or how defensible their business model is in the long term, you can’t argue with their phenomenal growth.  A recent post by Joe Pulizzi at Junta42 (go read it!) outlines Groupon’s content strategy and the value of their editors.  One fact really jumped out:

Of Groupon’s 7,000 employees, they have 425 editors. For Brandon’s team specifically, he oversees 101 writers and 43 voice editors.

Groupon places a premium on content, and to get the content right, they have invested heavily in editorial staff.  Editors aren’t just for “old-line” businesses but also for some of the fastest growing “new economy” businesses.

Brands are publishers and smart marketers are embracing this with real content marketing strategies. Quality control is an integral part of this process.  If your content isn’t going through QA both yourself and your company risk looking sloppy or uninformed. Poor QA dulls the image of your personal brand and your company’s brand in the eyes of your customers, prospects and advocates.

A perfect example of this occurred last evening and spurred this post.  Nightly, it seems that the crawler at the bottom of the news screen has typos, grammatical errors or just plain bad writing.  Last night was no exception as we watched the news scrolling “Police Consider Investigating After 3 Are Dead in San Diego State Shooting Tuesday.”  At first glance, this headline makes no sense. Are police really only “considering” investigating, you know, if they get around to it?  Of course not. Sure enough, after this line ticked through 3 times incorrectly, it was revised the 4th time to read “Continue” not “Consider.” A good editor and QA process would have kept that from ever making it on the air once, let alone 3 times.

As I write this, I do so with the confidence that it will go through our own internal QA process.  I’m sure at least 2 of the references to monkeys riding unicycles will be removed (if not all 3). This QA process allows me to focus on the content, knowing that our editor will not let me fail.  Now if only I would have had somebody like that to talk me out of the bowl haircut and Jams.

Learn more in our featured webinar What if You Build It and They Still Don’t Come? the anatomy of a content marketing strategy.
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